Memphis – After Ja Morant’s winning penalty missed with one second left in the Timberwolves’ 111-109 loss in Game Five, coach Chris Finch didn’t comment his team’s loss on his defense on that play.
He didn’t comment on Wolves’ inconsistent late half-court execution on offense, which led to another Memphis comeback in the series despite Wolves leading in the fourth quarter by 13 points.
“Honestly, that has nothing to do with it,” Finch said. “They were impressed, I don’t know, how many offensive rebounds in the fourth inning?”
The media told him in front of Finch that Brandon Clarke fired seven offensive rebounds for the Grizzlies – in the fourth quarter.
“Clark had seven on his own?” Finch said. “This is the match. They had 18 [offensive rebounds] for the sake of playing. They had 12 second-chance points in the fourth quarter. This was him. This is the game.”
Once again, the Wolves were left to pick up the pieces from the match they drove most of the night, from a match they should have won and a match they had no one to blame for losing. They are now tracking the best of the seven first-round matches of the first round of the qualifying series three games to two.
Dirty play permeated the night. The Grizzlies and the Wolves combined for 39 turns, while the Wolves committed 23 times. Memphis shot 67% from the free throw line and 25% from the three-point range.
The fifth match could not have been won by the team that did their best to win it, but the team that did the least to lose it. Wolves defeated Memphis there. They advanced by 13 with 9:38 to play after Karl-Anthony Towns hit three pointers and then silenced the audience with his finger in the mouth.
They can never completely shut down Memphis. As he walked to the podium after the game, Towns, who scored 28 points and 12 rebounds, fired two deep sighs.
“It’s disappointing,” Townes said. “We’re so close but so far.” “We just have to move on and dust ourselves off on this journey, talk about what we need to talk about, stay together, and get ready. [Game 6] Friday.”
Memphis ran into a run to get to one before Morant put it ahead for the first time since the first quarter, 107-106 with 1:03 to play. Memphis advanced before Anthony Edwards (22 points) equalized with a three-way corner kick with 3.7 seconds from the left.
In the final takeover of Memphis, Edwards gambled on trying to steal the inside pass to Morant, who then fired on Jared Vanderbilt for the win.
“I had already decided I was going to try to steal it,” Edwards said. “Stupid mistake.” “It’s over. I can’t do anything about it.”
Morant overcame the slow start to get 30 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists. It was his paint job that transformed Wolverhampton’s defense and allowed Clarke to dominate the glass on his way to 21 points, 15 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive end.
“You can’t corner him and try to recover because he’s going to jump, click on him,” Edwards said. “Just got it. It was just weird today, man. I don’t know. It was just weird today.”
Finch added: “Our kids [guards] They have to go back there and get beaten up. They reached for a sandwich and put their body on it there.”
The Wolves did themselves no favors with their late game execution, especially when D’Angelo Russell tried to give the Wolves a lead with a contested shot from mid-range and switched the ball back to their former possession, with Towns saying the ball actually came off the foot of Desmond Bunny (25 Point).
“Everything should get better,” Townes said. “Everything should get better from all of us. It will be a team effort.”
It’s a sad glimmer of hope for the Wolves that they at least had the experience to bounce back from crushing defeats they made themselves, because they just did it to win Game 4 after wasting Game 3.
“Everyone knows we have the knockout game on Friday, so I don’t think anyone has failed,” Edwards said. “I think everyone was disappointed that we lost today. But I’m looking forward to Friday because all the pressure is on… It’s time to show up. I think everyone is ready.”
They will need to build on that positivity again, no matter what they have left of it.
“It’s going to be a whole new game,” Edwards said. “We might get the lead and be able to keep it. You know? It’s funny for sure, but hopefully we can get the lead and keep it.”